Like Fine Wine, Some Things You Just Can't Rush

Recently while talking with my son, sort of out of the blue, he commented that five of his best buddies were engaged and preparing for their wedding day. Last words of the text were scary, sad. Now that he's officially over the twenty-something "hill" he's feeling what most of these second-decaders are feeling; an unauthentic pressure to find a spouse and settle down.
Across the hundreds of miles, I thought of him as I always do, the little person getting his walking legs at eight months old. I reassured him that he was far too young to think about settling down as he had so much of life to live before the happily ever after scenario. But somehow amidst all the encouragement and reassurance, we both knew reality was setting in, and any day he would receive his God-gift of a Mrs. Right; and the only thing left to do would be prepare to put on his husband shoes.
I'm not a big fan of having conversations by text; but, in this new-tech world that seems to be the quickest way to reach someone, sin answering machines and voice mail. For Mother's Day, God-blessed him to gift me with an ITouch which has changed my attitude about over-rated technology. And texting seems to have us communicating more than the occasional phone call; which has its pos and negs.
In truth, I pray that he will patiently wait and endure until God sends his spouse. If that's tomorrow, wonderful. If it's ten years from now, even better. Marriage is kind of like pregnancies. If you get enough women of child-bearing age together, eventually it will seem like fertilty is in the water. It's the same with marriage. One pal proposes; the next thing you know another gets the happy pill, and on and on.
But, to all out there who're feeling this faux-pressure to jump the broom, listen to a few people who did so prematurely, and I assure you the yen will gain sensibility.
I remember I was his age when I said "I do," which makes it oh-so easy to advise him to not hurry. The time to ponder the thought of marriage is when that right person enters your life and you know they are who you should journey the rest of your life with. This timing is not measured by job stability, or age, or any other reason, other than that you believe in your deepest self this is who you should spend forever after with. Wisdom notes that marriage without money is more difficult, than marriage with financial stability. This is why I strongly encourage him to focus on laying a foundation that will prepare him to someday show his queen that he's worthy and able to represent her as king. Marriage is one of those things you can't just do because everyone else is doing it. True love is a gift from God that comes in His Divine Timing; not at any particular age. Some receive it at 16, others 76. We honor God for this gift by taking vows of marriage. Marriage, in and of itself, is a ministry that two people should dedicate their entire life strengthening according to God's Divine Purpose set forth in Genesis, when He acknowledged "It is not good for man to be alone." But realize, he made woman, for procreation purposes. Today, an unmarried is not truly alone. There are a whole lot of guy and gal pals to have Godly fun with until the queen (for males) enters the picture. In closing, it's difficult enough to charter the 20-something waters without trying to make happen something whose season has not yet come.The only thing sad and scary about best friends getting married, is believing that's your queue to imitate the same. Someday I want to be a M-I-L and a GramMY; but like fine wine, some things you just can't rush, lest you run the risk of experiencing no taste, worst yet, bad taste for life.


Closing Schools Is Not The Best Solution

There's talk of another one of our nation's public schools closing. In these tough economic times, this is really a sad commentary. I grew up in a time when teaching was one of the safest professions to be in. Comparably to other jobs in the public sector, it probably still is. But, the closing of schools based on low test scores is concerning. It makes me wonder how many more generations of youth will be lost to this ridiculous means of measuring one's ability to succeed in life. As a person who spent a decade as an elementary school teacher in what I call the war zone of public education, I am an avid proponent of children receiving a diploma based purely on merit for showing up, as opposed to mastery skills. I discern the latter to be a stumbling block and deterrent for a certain "class" of learners to be excluded from ever moving further than the impenetrable wall placed before them at graduation in the form of an exit exam. The schools that are up for closure are actually being reopened under a term called re-purposing. I do believe this particular school should be repurposed for the goal of building and defining young males in the community under an umbrella of an all-male academy for grades 3-12. It's currently a middle school, which reminds me of a holding tank for youngsters to grow past the torrential years of adolescence. I haven't read the research; but, it's probably safe to presume that this is when most youngsters develop the 'I can't succeed so I might as well quit' mentality. And to know that this attitude derives from some manmade test that most of my colleagues, possibly even myself included, would have difficulty passing. On learning of this school's closing, based specifically on low test scores, I was disturbed to learn that the only areas the students were weak in were math and science. Teachers, on learning of this mid-summer surprise were understandably upset. But this decision, only confirms my belief that it is past time due for people to voice their disgust with the education system failing our youth by placing them all under one definition of success. Just because these learners were not given the gift of being mathematicians or scientists, does not exclude them from being magnificent writers, orators, artists of paint and music, as well as athletes born to do great things for future generations. It is time that this asinine belief that everyone was born to specialize in a certain area needs to STOP! I grew up in a time when youngsters were tracked according to what they were most likely to succeed at based on aptitude tests. That seemed to work for the overall community; although researchers deemed this as a negative bias. We not only had students who were prepared to attend college; but, we had students who trained as auto mechanics, who went on to make their living repairing cars for residents of the area. Today there is another type of tracking going on. It's tracking those who will succeed, and those who will fail. Every year an exam determines whether a determined spirit who showed up every day will get a diploma or not. We're talking high school diploma here; not a Doctorate of Philosophy. Students should be taught what's important. They should graduate knowing how to read. They should graduate knowing how to write. And they should graduate knowing how to balance a checkbook and save for retirement. There is entirely TOO MUCH wasted education going on in high schools across America. I ask you: What purpose does calculus serve for a "me-person" whose sole interest is writing til I breathe my last breath. What purpose does knowing the Pythagorean Theorem have for a person whose purpose in life is to dance for a professional ballet company or play classical violin or flute in an orchestra as a career. It is time for parents to take charge and define what measures their child's success. It is time for children to stop graduating knowing material that only a select few people will benefit from. It's like the education system is feeding its bread and butter with knowledge that has no relevance or interest to what's real for their future. The face of the public school system needs to change and it needs to change drastically. It is not about money as much as it is about curriculum. I have two children that finished from the public school system. And just like I, they learned a lot of wasted knowledge. One of them is a beautiful artist of paint; but attending one of the most prestigious schools in the district left her filled with a knowledge and disdain for a lot of math and science that she will never use as her interest ends up being in the area of art history. I literally was blessed to find an academy for my son that focused on allowing learners to finish the curriculum at their own pace. It was perfect for a child who learned quickly and got bored even quicker. I credit this style of learning as a saving grace so to speak; because, it made the teacher a tutor more than a lecturer; and simultaneously gave him the freedom to finish high school at his own pace. Closing schools means destabilizing jobs, means destabilizing communities. Granted, some schools need to be closed for renovation. But to close a school because of poor test scores is a clear example of why the system is failing. I'd really like to hear more from Arne Duncan on plans he has for the system nationally. Based on a recent expose on Teach for America, I perceive that this is an organization that may or may not be serving the best interests of the learners. I watched as stressed-out twenty-somethings tried to make sense of inner-city youth who have been exposed to more in their 15-years or so of life, than these fresh-faced teachers may experience in a lifetime. School should be about preparing people for what they plan to do with their futures. Everyone is not interested in being a NASA scientist; nor a physician, or mathematician. I vote that our schools begin to reflect the interests of our youth. Graduation requirements should be based on a student's ability to show mastery in the field he hopes to pursue for life. If it's playing a violin; at graduation after completing core requirements, he should be able to play a sonata that has the judges standing in applause on completion. If his interest is to sing on Broadway, well you get the point. It's time education gets back to the basics and stops competing to be better than other nations. Everything that looks like success is not, when we take into account suicide factors of people in other countries who feel they have disappointed their families. When America started looking at other countries as its gauge for success, it lost its focus on what makes its citizens unique. It began the dark journey of trying to be something it is not. It is a melting pot made up of many different peoples doing many different things. To limit our learners to math and science is a major disservice not only to the students involved; but, those who would so benefit from what true talent they have to offer. Some people were born to create life-saving vaccines. Some were born to write the perfect words that heal the hurting souls. Wake up America. Stop closing schools, and instead, start rewriting mission statements and curriculums that reflect what real-life represents!


The Dirty Little Secret of Bagless Vacuum Cleaners

I'm not much of a betting woman; but, I'm willing to bet that the fairly-new invention of the bagless vacuum cleaner was thought up by a man. I know I'll get mail that there are a lot of men who vacuum. But, it's reasonable to believe that this task is the responsibility of a woman. Again, I'm willing to wager on that as well. But, this writing isn't about falling into the entrapment of gambling; but, instead to acknowledge why I believe a person would have to be on the maniacal side to like this contraption. I'm one of those persons who finds vacuuming a semi-form of exercising and stress reliever all at the same time. I also prefer hand-washing a sink full of dishes rather than using a dishwasher; but, that's more of a green matter than a joy. But to stay focused, today I woke up knowing I'd vacuum at some point in the day. I just had it in my spirit. For those of you who vacuum every day, and in some cases, more than once a day, that's wonderful. And depending on the number of kids or pets, possibly even a necessity. But I vacuum mostly from a position of obvious necessity. And when I take on this chore, I plug in some great music and start the task. It's not like I own a mansion, so the process isn't overwhelming by a longshot. BUT, today's experience was so yuk that I had to write about it to actually relieve stress. It was so impactive that it took me back to my childhood. I remembered my mother owning an Electrolux vacuum cleaner. It was light gray with purely steel parts that reminded me of a train caboose. Her vacuum lasted through raising her three children and on into their adulthoods. I'd say she got her money's worth; whatever that was. I can remember her replacing it with an upright; but, I don't remember why. Presumably the one she had simply wore out or perhaps like many people she just wanted something new. I doubt the latter; but, all I recall is occasionally a dust-filled bag would be removed and replaced with a nice clean one. The dirty bag would be thrown out with the trash, and life went on. When I got married, today's experience reminded me that as gifts she gave me a food processor, a set of heavy-duty professional pots, and, yes, you may have guessed, a vacuum cleaner. As a single person in my twentys I had a vacuum that sufficed for the occasional time I was at my apartment and not working, or out having fun. But, in my mother's wisdom, she knew that the new life I'd embarked on would require a lot sturdier unit than what I had. Admittedly, it lasted the duration of raising my kids. With the exception of bringing it in once for a minor repair it was well worth whatever she paid for it. But, after my kids were grown and gone, I decided I'd invest in a new, bagless kind. What in Hades was I thinking? The bottom line is: I wasn't! All I saw as I stood in the store was a boxed item that looked pretty, and had gotten good reviews from the research I'd done online. SO, I bought it. After less than six weeks of use I know I made a bad purchase. Not so much for the vacuum itself; but for the concept. Every time I pull the canister out to dump the dust (YUUUUUK!!!) I do the dreaded rinsing out this filth, and wiping the whole unit down. The only sanitary place to rinse this thing is in the backyard with a garden hose. Some might say you can wash it out in the shower; but, no, not to be difficult; that doesn't work for me. It's like the job of vacuuming, which is to remove dirt, is amplified by having to clean up the dirt you just cleaned up! Yes, I guarantee a man invented the bagless vac. I'm grossed out as I write about it; and am having to comsume extra liquids to remove the perhaps imagined grit in my throat. I priced the newest Elextrolux model. We're talking $500. I'm hoping that includes free shipping and handling. Needless to say, that won't be on my list of things to buy; but, I will begin researching the best bag-required vacuum for half that price. In life there are some things you don't skimp on. A reliable vacuum cleaner; BAGS REQUIRED is one of them!